Pakistan ex-PM Khan, wife jailed over 'unlawful marriage'

The pair were convicted of breaking an Islamic law that stipulates a three-month wait between a divorce and a new marriage. The verdict was the third in a week against Khan

A court found that former Prime Minister Imran Khan's marriage to Bushra Bibi was illegal. (photo: DW)
A court found that former Prime Minister Imran Khan's marriage to Bushra Bibi was illegal. (photo: DW)


Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and his wife Bushra Bibi were each sentenced to seven years in prison on Saturday after their 2018 marriage was found to have violated the law, officials said.

The verdict was announced a day after the trial ended, which the 71-year-old Khan and his family insist was politically motivated.

Saturday's conviction is Khan's fourth since 2022, when he was ousted from power in a parliamentary vote of no confidence.

He faces more than 150 legal cases related to his time in office.

What were Khan and his wife charged with?

The prosecution said the couple had violated Islamic law that rules that a woman must wait three months before marrying again.

The rule was introduced so there can be no doubt as to the father in case of a pregnancy.

The pair, who received the maximum jail term, denied the charges and plan to appeal the verdict.

As well as the prison sentences, the couple were each fined 500,000 rupees (around $1,800; €1,670), ARY News reported.

Khan's party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) said in a statement that the trial had made a "mockery of the law" as the case was marked by "hours of rushed hearings at court, no cross examination of witnesses and no due process."

Bibi's ex-husband raised the case

The complaint against the marriage was raised in November by Khawar Maneka, Bibi's ex-husband.

The Nation newspaper cited Bibi as saying the divorce deed presented by Maneka was a "fabricated document."

She added that he had given her a triple divorce in April 2017, while Khan and Bibi had solemnized their marriage on January 1, 2018, seven months before he became prime minister.

The couple questioned why Maneka had waited so long to complain, as he only raised the issue after being detained in a graft case last year.

Week of verdicts

It is the third verdict in a week to attack the former international cricket star's reputation, after he was given concurrent prison sentences of 10 years for leaking state secrets and 14 years for graft alongside his wife, Bibi.

The pair face another graft case, allegedly involving giving undue benefits to a property tycoon in return for establishing an Islamic university.

Khan is embroiled in more than 150 legal cases, including inciting people to violence after his arrest in May 2023 when supporters attacked military headquarters and a radio station building.

He is currently due to serve a total of 34 years in jail.

This week's sentences come ahead of the February 8 parliamentary elections, where Khan has been disqualified from running and his party is struggling to run an effective campaign.

The multiple and hasty convictions are seen by his party and supporters as punishment for his rhetoric against Pakistan's powerful military leadership, which has ruled the country for half of its 76-year history.

During his final months in power, Khan had broadened his fight with opponents to include the military.

Bibi is Khan's third wife

Oxford-educated Khan had a reputation as a playboy during his cricket-playing days, frequently photographed alongside society beauties and models.

His first marriage to Jemima Goldsmith — the daughter of a British multimillionaire — ended in divorce.

He then married Reham Nayyar, a television journalist who published a kiss-and-tell memoir after they divorced within a year.

Bibi, his third wife, rarely appears in public and wears a face-covering hijab when she does.

Khan has often called Bibi his spiritual leader. She is known for her devotion to Sufism, a mystical form of Islam.

It was not clear when or how the pair met, but former aide Aun Chaudhry said Khan was impressed with her spirituality.

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Published: 04 Feb 2024, 9:23 AM